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WW1 Diary – June 4, 1917

Forty-first installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated to a home near Valmiera, and the Russian Revolution is in full swing. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.

June 4, 1917

Days are warm, sunny. The air is full of flowers. White lilacs are blooming, lilies-of-the-valley, fields are full of uncountable flowers. Still, life is stormy, full of fear and unrest. The farmhands and servants on all of the estates are striking. Our farmhands and servants announced their strike on June 2nd. No one is working. The barley has been seeded in the fields, but crowds of crows are feasting, because there is no one to dig the seeds into the soil. The cows are mooing in the barn, disturbed by the pigs, everyone wants to eat and most importantly, the cows must be milked. We got up at 4am, everyone else was sleeping, what could we do. The only person who stayed loyal to us was the stablemaster, with whom we went to the barn and gave the cows hay, and then we began to milk them. Thankfully two reservists’ wives showed up, who helped, otherwise I would not have been able to manage with 28 cows to milk. We locked ourselves in the barn, so that no one could get to us, so they could not yell or hit us or other terrible things. Papa watered the calves and fed the pigs himself. There are hundreds of chores to be done in the house, which all need to be done, and the children want to eat.

The strike demands are sky-high. Some farmhands want to be paid 1600 rubles in cash, the girls want salaries raised to 350 rubles, and they want everything for free. We cannot accept or reach a compromise on many of these, because there is no income and how could we meet such demands. And so the strike continues, with all sorts of irritations, each one bigger than the last. May God give us strength to persevere, to survive this. There are promises and threats to kick owners and stewards out of their homes, so that the farmhands can take over and deal out the land and belongings. There are more and more political parties. The Bolsheviks are inviting people to fight not against the Germans anymore, but against the capitalists and the provisional government. They want to divide up everything, so that everyone has an equal share. Madness!

They want to force the Tsar and his whole family to leave their palace and put them in Kronstadt prison. The ministers are suffering in prison, waiting for their day in court. Maybe that will happen to us too, we innocents, we could be thrown out of our home and bread, and then where will we be with small children. Crazy, horrible life! A whole band of bandits and thieves has organized itself in Valmiera, there are all sorts of thefts and deceptions with every step, it is terrifying to live. The only peace and refuge – our God, we ask him for peace, so that only the heart becomes peaceful.

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